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Tool review: Floor-standing Drill Presses

Delta table
Enlarge Image
To tilt Delta's table sideways, pull
out the quick-release lock
and rotate the table. It also tilts forward.
Powermatic table
Enlarge Image
Powermatic's table extends to 26"
for added workpiece support
, and comes with a 3"-tall aluminum
fence and dust housing with
a 1-1/2" port.


Most of the tested models have tables better suited for metalworking than woodworking, with support gussets crisscrossing the underneath side -- limiting clamping space -- and a perimeter trough to catch metal-cooling lubricants. Fortunately, a few have tables friendly to woodworkers. Among other features, Delta's table, shown top right, tilts 90° left and right for angled drilling, and forward up to 45°. And it requires no tools for table adjustments. Powermatic's table, shown bottom right, increases to as much as 26" when you extend its two wings.


You cannot do precise work if a bit wobbles due to runout -- any variance from center while spinning -- in the spindle or quill. Fortunately, none of the tested models showed any signs of runout.

Less-pressing concerns

CHUCKS THAT GRIP. All of the chucks kept tight bites on bits within their jaws, even under high-torque applications. Two models come with keyless chucks with 5/8" capacity. Although convenient, we found it difficult to loosen those chucks after high-torque boring tasks.

USER-FRIENDLY QUILL STROKE/LOCK/HANDLES. Five units give you at least 4-3/8" of stroke -- the plunge capacity of the chuck. We like this extra capacity, especially for drilling mortises.

LASERS SHOULD AID PRECISION. Five machines sport red cross-hair lasers to align your marked hole location with the bit's centerpoint. The best lasers shine thin, bright lines that intersect at about 90. Steeper angles make alignment more difficult.

FLEX-LIGHTS WORK BEST. Flexible-neck incandescent task lights help you direct the light where you want it. Incandescent bulbs mounted in the head behind the quill create shadows on the target area, especially when using large bits.

Continued on page 5:  You can't go wrong with either of these machines



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